I was born into a Christian household and taught from the womb about Jehovah. Our house had a revolving door and we often had circuit overseers, need-greaters, pioneers attending their two week school, and traveling guests gracing us with their presence. I have to hand it to my parents for always setting out regular pioneering as the ultimate goal for all five of their children.
My first contact with a need-greater was with Karen when I was probably about 9 or 10 years old. She was from a neighboring town and was serving in Ecuador. She would come home in the summers and visit my sisters who were quite a bit older than me. I had an early bedtime, but I remember sneaking to my doorway and listening to those girls talk until late thinking that Karen was the prettiest, smartest, coolest person I knew. But what she was doing?! I thought you had to be like Superman or Wonder Woman to make that happen--it certainly wasn't for normal people like me!
When I was 12 my family started going through a lot of problems due to the disfellowshipping of my oldest sister. My parents, naturally, just weren't sure how to cope, and I think we were all too devastated to be much comfort to each other. I felt very alone in the world so started to pour my heart out to the one person I felt could help--Jehovah. Many nights I cried myself to sleep talking to Him, and the comfort I felt after speaking to Him convinced me He was real and that I wanted to serve him. Four years later when I finished my personal Bible study, I dedicated my life to him and symbolized that dedication in baptism on April 19, 1997 in St.Louis, MO. While I was studying the Bible, my two older sisters were regular pioneering, and I often tagged along. I quickly discovered I loved the ministry and felt really sad when school started back up and I knew I wouldn't be able to care for my return visits like I did during the summer.
I thought I'd start pioneering right after high school like my sisters, but right at that time, Jehovah's organization was stressing some secular training to be able to support oneself in the full-time ministry. I was offered a full scholarship at the same time, and as a family, we felt it was the right decision to take it. So instead of pioneering, I started college. Three and a half years later, something else crazy happened--I finished school, and instead of pioneering, I got a full-time job about three hours away from my family in Memphis, TN. What was I thinking, huh?!
Five years slaving away in Satan's world were enough to show me that a career and a good paycheck were doing nothing to satisfy my spiritual needs. I had fulfilled personal dreams like moving out on my own and traveling, but I still didn't feel satisfied with life. When I heard information about giving Jehovah my best, I knew I was shortchanging Him. I used to think about making it into Paradise and having resurrected Daniel ask me how I spent the exciting "last days" he foretold, and my answer embarrassed me. I felt an intense desire to do more for Jehovah, but I wasn't sure what exactly.
In the summer of 2007, we had an Assembly Hall renovation in Memphis. I met people from all over the U.S. who had given up their homes and jobs to volunteer in the swampy South--just to make sure we had a dignified place of worship. I decided maybe I didn't have the circumstances to pioneer, but I could support the Spanish congregation, so I moved in February 2008. That next summer, I went back to Missouri for the District Convention, and I saw youths my age I had grown up with but lost contact with talking about amazing privileges of service they were experiencing. What?! I knew them! They weren't Superman or Wonder Woman! They were just normal people looking to do more for Jehovah. That was it! I made up my mind that nothing was going to stop me from pioneering this time. By September 2008, I too was a regular pioneer. From that summer on, I really started to see Jehovah directing things. It was like every spiritual dream I ever had came true in Spanish.
In the spring of 2010, I got bad news that I would be losing my job in summer 2011. My company offered to transfer us to another office in FL, and that got me thinking. I had just returned from visiting a friend in Nicaragua and absolutely loved what I experienced. I thought, "I'm going to give up my home, my friends, and a congregation I love to move to FL where I will have no guarantees at all. They could fire me within just a few weeks. OR I could give all that stuff up and do something I've been wanting to do for years with the guarantee that Jehovah will take care of me." I decided to use the year I had left to remove myself from long-term commitments, get out of debt, sell the unnecessary, and save to be a need greater. Through Jehovah's direction, I was sent back to Nicaragua, and well, you've seen the rest of the story here on the blog.
I went to speak the other day at an English class at the local university full of business students. They asked me, "If you had your dream job, what would you be doing?" I told them I'm doing my dream job every day. The summer I was making my decision about pioneering a friend told me, "Jehovah doesn't use who's best, He uses who's available and molds them to be who's best." So if you're sitting at home dreaming of being a need greater or expanding your service but thinking you're not up to the task, I encourage you to view the Annual Meeting video again. In it, it was mentioned that Jehovah's name "He Causes to Become" also means He causes His servants to become anything He wants them to be. You don't have to be Superman or Wonder Woman to serve Jehovah more fully. You just have to be you! Available you! He'll do the rest.